Friday, March 29, 2013

Landscape Plans // Part 2

On Wednesday, I shared the landscape plans for our front yard. Today, I thought I'd give you a little peek at what we are working on out back. 

I'm pretty excited about this design plan because if all goes well, we will end up with a fireside seating area just to the west of our pool deck by summertime. We began excavating the area right after we moved into the house, thinning the waist high geraniums and thorny shrubs that grew beneath the worlds biggest ficus tree- like ever. Progress continued on into this past Fall with tree and stump removal, which then lead to recent weeks when we finally scaled down 5 inches of dirt in this area. Bringing the foundation down allowed us to work from a space aligned with our pool deck and eliminate water run-off hassles we have dealt with since moving in.

That obstacle aside, we're still working with some specific challenges that call for creative design- particularly because the yard slopes upward to the north and that grade was not formally tiered off it is in other areas backyard. The plan is to repurpose bit of the excavated dirt and create stepped planters along the fence, which will bring plantings level, while compensating for the grade. We'll use pressure treated wood planks to encase tall, golden hued Phormium, chosen because it will play off the dark slate fence and become a sharp backdrop for the rest of the space.

We're replanting a couple of sculptural trees on each end and will lay in some decomposed granite against a wash of grass brought right up to the pool deck for interest and color. Of course, here is also where we will place a large cement fire bowl surrounded by comfy seating. Pie in the sky will be an overstuffed sectional- either purchased or made (volunteers?)

Here's what I'm imagining:

But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. This is what it looks like in it's present state - partially prepped, but lots of dirt still to move out of there. The area looks teeny tiny from this angle, but there is another 3-4 ft beyond the dirt mound that we will be working with.

I threw a "free dirt" listing up on Craigslist and surprisingly, we've had a few takers. Who knew fill dirt was such a hot commodity?

Weather permitting this weekend, maybe we'll have an opportunity to make a little headway on this project. Two months and counting...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Light My Fire

When I was a kid, my Father built a brick fire pit out in the backyard. I recall it being a big curiosity to me, but in the end, we did not put it to a lot of use. The Mister's family also had a fire pit built in their backyard and it was one of the first things I noticed when he took me home to meet his family so long ago. I always knew we'd build some fire of our own when we finally had the digs for it and after the past two summers spent burning DuraFlame logs out by the pool in our mini, mesh-enclosed, metal fireplace, we finally have a solid plan for a fireside seating area out back. 

Just in time for summer too.

But it took a lot of thought, research and contractor quotes to get to our desired state. The first thing we did was to consider all of the different elements we were shooting for with our fire-scape plans. They really could have gone several ways. 

Just as I did yesterday with the landscape plans out front, I thought I'd end the week tomorrow by giving you a peek at what we are working towards in the backyard. Summer is certainly heating up to be pretty sweet indeed.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Landscape Plans // Part I

Landscaping plans for the house are finally coming together and today, I thought I'd share a bit about the direction we're taking with our planting scheme.

I previously posted about the decorative wood screen we recently installed out in front of our house. This was the final obstacle standing between us and a fully landscaped yard. Now that it's in, planting can finally commence! We've spent the better part of two years planning out the types of plants we'd want to use, taking notes and pictures while driving neighborhoods, staying at hotels and dining at restaurants where we noticed designs we'd want to incorporate (do you do this too?). We decided long ago that we'd want to use a modern mix of Desert and Mediterranean varities and set out to design a plan that incorporated many of our favorites.

We'll anchor the front garden bed with some edgier desert favorites- natives of Mexico and The Canary Islands. Also used will be a variety of Ocotillo, a tall, thorny plant spotted and loved during one of our earliest trips to Palm Springs.  We're planning to place that just in front of the wood screen to draw visual interest upward toward our address plaque. Another variety you don't see here, but probably know more commonly is the giant Blue Agave (Agave Americana) that we plan to spotlight as well.
Then, we'll fill in around these plants with others seen more typically in Mediterranean styled gardens- free flowing golden grasses, the silver foliage of lavender and blue hues of fescue and flax lilies. We'll also draw on the deep pinks of a succulent called Echeveria 'Afterglow', a trend continued into the back garden as well.

Our plan above is still a little fluid at the moment and may ultimately be impacted by budget (isn't everything?). It also looks like a lot of plants - and it is. But the bed itself is almost 40 feet long in it's entirety, which will give us lots of room to work in. When all is said and done, it will be finished off with some spotlighting and some decomposed granite- a finish that will look polished from the street and will be easily raked during Fall when the Maple trees lining our block discard their leaves.

I'll share more about backyard garden plans in Part II. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Springing into the Weekend + Some Things That Caught My Attention


What a week it has been. As we head into the first weekend of Spring (yippee!), I thought I'd give a shout out to a few things that recently caught my attention. 

Design on the Fly | The 6-Week, One Room Challenge hosted by Linda of Calling it Home wrapped up this week and all participants showcased their final reveals. There were of course some pretty amazing results from all those talented gals. But I have to say, Linda's new foyer really just blew me away. What a transformation. Light, bright and contemporary. I love all the thought she put into each re-purposed piece that she placed in that space. 

Mirrored Masterpiece | Speaking of reveals, how cool was Albertina's painted mirror? I love that she got inspiration from something she saw in the background of an image she posted and made her own version happen. Just so cool. 

3 Minute Fiction | For weeks, I've been listening to the submissions for NPR's 3-Minute Fiction writer's contest. This year's theme had all writing from the perspective of a voicemail message. The winner was just revealed and though I had some other favorites, that entry probably resonates with an emotion many of us have felt at some point. In true NPR fashion, you can also click on a link to listen to the story as read on All Things Considered.

Give Up Shampoo? | Sarah's post has me thinking it I might try. My sister, the hairstylist, might have a few thoughts of her own for me though.

Wearstler Inspired DIY | I had a reveal of my own this week! If you missed it, pop on back to see how I married up my love of all things stone, gold and cactus in a Kelly Wearstler inspired piece of pottery.

Happy {Spring} Weekend!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rise From the Ashes // Decorating With Vintage Ashtrays

I like a space with a good mix of modern and vintage pieces. While vintage furniture can get pricey, accessories offer a more wallet-friendly opportunity to incorporate a little yesteryear into your decor. One of my favorite ways to do this is by using mid-century ashtrays as catch-alls throughout the house. 

Today, I'm sharing a few of my latest Etsy finds.

Etsy and eBay both offer so many options to choose from. Re-purposing these gems- many of which are collectible - allows you to incorporate color, shape and even texture to your console or coffee table. There are even different ways to let your own personality shine through as well; from branded restaurant and highway souvenirs, to amoeba shaped kitsch, to high end, hand blown Italian thoroughbreds, the options are endless. Local thrift stores offer expedience, but may not deliver the selection. 

Nevertheless, keep your eyes peeled! 
Half the fun is the hunt (and let's face it, the day the UPS truck stops at your doorstep).

From top right: 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Peep Show

I love when homes are shot from the "outside looking in" perspective. The rooms within them become almost a life sized diorama of sorts, the details of life framed up by the open windows and doorways.
It reminds me of how I like to daydream of my next decorating move in our own home. I like to stand back and view the entire room, often from opposite corners or by peering around the door jam just to see what draws the eye first. I'm often caught red-handed by The Mister, who sees this as a foreboding sign of more change to come. But, I admit that I often do this at the end of a project as well. There are few things that thrill me more than sneaking a peak of a room, all finished and styled up after months of hard work. 

I can imagine that these homeowners felt the same way when they saw the scenes the camera captured of their own living spaces. Perhaps the photographer caught the essence of what they appreciate most about their home, though it's quite possible that they revealed something to the owner that they had not yet seen themselves.

Perhaps a little different from the images above, the beach scene captured through the kitchen doorway below is one of my favorites. Standing in the kitchen, with the scrapings of the day's lunch still on the counter, I wonder if it would look as inviting as it does from this view. Captured this way though, it seems to say that with the seascape beckoning right outside the doors, the inhabitants had no time to deal with the mundane chore of clean up.


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Make It // Kelly Wearstler Inspired Pottery

It's no secret that I'm a bit infatuated of late with rocks and minerals and with this latest project, I think I've successfully incorporated them into nearly every room in the house. The project I'm about to share didn't initially start out in this direction. I had actually spotted a different project on Design Sponge and visited the craft store with that in mind. By the end of my trip, I had the stones and epoxy in my basket and charged off down a completely new path. In the end, the Wearstler-inspired pottery I concocted was the final result I was always looking to achieve in the first place.

Once I got the stones adhered to the face of my pottery (helpful tip: secure with a little painter's tape until they set), I decided to go back over the pottery with a little gold leafing. Gold leafing is new to me, but it could not have been more simple. I think the flakes vs. some of the other liquid options available contributed some additional texture and dimension. 

The rhodonite beads do have some small holes for threading and though I originally thought I'd fill them in, they really don't bother me much with this project. I may opt for some rough cut minerals instead of the tumbled look here in future evolutions I'm considering. For now, I'm really happy with the result.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Holtwood House // Wallpaper Considerations

I've been spending a lot of time lately, researching and mulling over wallpaper options for three rooms in our home. While I've settled on the walls for our kitchen dining area, I'm still tossing around a couple of ideas for the two bathrooms. These two areas are still somewhat of a blank slate and the paper will undoubtedly be at the only additional upgrade for both spaces- with the exception of lighting, cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures which have already gone in. We are still a long way out from any tile work in the respective shower areas. Both countertops will also need replacing. But I think we can work with what we have in there for now.

So with that background, I'm still pushing towards getting some paper up on the walls and the beauties above are currently up for consideration. 

For our guest bath, I'm really leaning toward Abigail Edward's Seascape

Our master is the space giving me the most heartache. It's the oddest little vanity nook/separate shower room combo. I'm sure back in 1967, it was cutting edge stuff. But I'd love nothing more than to break down the barrier wall and expand it into one giant bathroom someday. However at this point, I think we're just looking to upgrade the vanity area and make her do for now. 

I'm already a little partial to the Hicks or the Medina for those walls. 

And... this masterpiece is the selection for the kitchen dining area:

Erika Wakerly // Angles in White/Silver

With the light bouncing off of the metallic pattern, it's even prettier in person.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Loving Lately // A Weekend Wish List

With St. Patrick's Day on the horizon, I know the color du jour is surely green. But, I'm craving a little pattern and edge as we move into the weekend and lately I just can't seem to get enough of my beloved black and gold. 

Here are a few things that have I'm loving right now.

1. LOT78 Printed Modal T-Shirt (says Goodbye on the back) | 2. Studded Sandal 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Design Trend // Single Bulb Pendant


I actually remember where I first spotted this trend. It wasn't in a magazine or on a blog, but the focal point in a store that had just been opened in our local mall. The single bulb pendants that hung straight down the center of the shop were (and still are) a show stopper. 

But this lighting trend has grown some legs in the years since and is now consistently used in bedrooms and kitchens from California to Oslo. I like it, did I tell you that yet? Especially in some of its latest incarnations - globe, Edison or silver tipped bulb; brass socket, neon cord. I've thought long and hard about whether or not I want to incorporate this idea into a room in my own home. But to my own dismay, it just doesn't feel like the right fit and I think it better not to force it.

But look at how it draws in the eye and becomes a statement in these rooms.




What's your take on this lighting scheme? 
Is it too trendy or something you'd work into your own design plan?

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Otherworldly Landscape Design // Art Luna Garden

When I came across the image above, I was arrested. It might have been the rust colored, mid-century velvet sectional, seemingly at odds with an outdoor setting; perhaps it was the towering ferns that created the Avatar-like canopy above it or the contrast of the lush greenery punctuated by the tawny red accents. It was likely the combination of all of these elements that struck me as otherworldly and I confess, it stopped me dead in my tracks.

I like being surprised by design, particularly in the garden. Designing a beautiful indoor space presents it's own challenges, yet feels somewhat more natural or familiar. But taming an unruly garden can sometimes seem like an entirely new frontier altogether, akin to the wild west.  We are after all, working with living, breathing species out there, coaching and cajoling them into performing the way we need them to in order to achieve our overall design plan. Considering that, it's even more remarkable when you see results as in the image above.

But the story behind the designer is just as surprising as the landscapes he designs. Art Luna has long been a top LA hairstylist to A-List celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Diane Lane and Kirsten Dunst, who have visited his Santa Monica salon since opening in 1995. Looking to make his salon unique, he blended his love of gardening with his business and created an lush waiting area on the patio garden outside his back doors.  As he grew his salon business, his celebrity clientele would bring him gardening books and accompany him to local nurseries where he cultivated his expertise in garden design. He also attended lectures and took inspiration through travel, visiting some of the great gardens in Europe. He used his own home garden as a testing ground for hard to find exotics and began honing his own style. 

Eventually, he was hired by Beverly Hills socialites and salon clients to transform large expanses of untamed hillside properties where eventually, he developed his signature aesthetic:  indoor-outdoor living that is exotic, free-flowing, yet structured with a touch of flamboyance. 

He officially opened his own design studio, Art Luna Garden, and now grooms remarkable gardens for the same celebrity roster that visits his renown salon. 

Talk about reinvention.

Luna uses unexpected elements in his designs. Here, crystals take shade underneath a canopy of Japanese Maples. 

Image sources: 

For more photos + inspiration from Lisa Eisner's garden (top image), check out these articles:


Monday, March 11, 2013

I've Got a Tip For You!

Hi friends!

Today, I've also got a 'Chic {entertaining} Tip' to share with you. 
Hop on over to Trissta's blog, Living on the Chic and see the unexpected way this appetizer came together. 
You might not guess how... 


Lost in the Details // A Day at Santa Anita

There are certain places we might visit many, many times over the course of a lifetime that no matter what always manage to captivate, surprise and inspire all the same. Santa Anita Racetrack is one of those places for me. Raised in the sun-drenched foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, I've walked through her storied deco entrance, designed by Gordon B. Kaufman more times than I can count. I've hosted birthday parties in her infield and spent numerous afternoons pacing the tall white rails that circle her track.

The horses that run there are mighty, majestic creatures and while I love to watch them unleash their power onto the turf, I'd be lying if I didn't say that the biggest draw for me is the history and architectural details that make up what many say is the most beautiful racetrack in America.

Of course, I might be bias to her backdrop. The view from the grandstand is something I've stared at all my life.  But there are so many other beautiful scenes to get lost in right there on the grounds and Sunday, I did just that. 

The day's sky was quintessentially cloudless, California blue. But in my minds eye, I saw all through filtered light, seamlessly fluttering back and forth between present day and yesteryear. It's easy to do. While some aspects, like the scoreboard, have been modernized, the clubhouse and facade have been largely maintained to look the way they did back in the racing's mid-century heyday. 

The 1,100 foot grandstand, built in the deco style, is the stuff of legend, made famous by Hollywood movies like A Day at the Races (1937), Casino (1995), Nixon (1995) and of course, Seabiscuit (2003). It was from these seats and nearly every inch of surrounding grass and pavement that 78,000 spectators watched Seabiscuit win the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap in the last start of his career.  

The grandstand itself is considered a historic monument.

Though Sunday's crowd was quite light, the Infield has traditionally been where the party is at. While the Clubhouse and grandstands are largely original, the Infield has been modernized a bit with features like the big jumbo screen where the crowd can see the race in its entirety up close. Saturdays are typically festival days and are now frequently festooned with food trucks and beer gardens. There are large expanses of grass to spread out on for picnicking as well. 

The old benches here are still a reminder of the past, as are the capped and adorned structures at the betting window.

Sadly, though it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the park is now considered one of the "Most Endangered Historic Places" in country.  A large sprawling mall sits just to the Southwest of the parking lot and further development has threatened closure since 2007. Racing does not have public attention as it once did in its heyday and despite the events that take place most weekends, attendance has dropped dramatically. 

The current owners have declared bankruptcy.

All images by Holtwood Hipster
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